Wongan Hills

On Friday we had lunch in ‘Cafe of Note’ – we are not sure if the cafe was here last year or not, but it is the first time we have been there. It has two rooms and the larger one is music themed. After eating Stephen asked a man about shade for parking our van and we ended up having a long discussion. He is the partner of the woman who owns the cafe and is a piano tuner. He still works in Perth a couple of days a week and spends the rest of the time in Wongan Hills. He and Stephen discovered lots in common with music and aquaintances in the music scene in Perth.

They sometimes have music at the cafe and we said we would be back for the evening session. The Aroretum had a bit of shade and we had a rest there, followed by a walk, then back to the cafe. The owner was singing and the man we had spoken with, Alan, played a short keyboard electric piano, supplemented with a separate sounding keyboard, whilst singing as well. We had fish and chips and joined in the singing as much as we could. We were more impressed with his keyboard skills than the singing, perhaps, but it made for a really interesting evening. There was one other couple and a single man who sat in the other room, but looked in to smile at us.

We planned to stay at the free camping spot where we have stayed before, but had difficulty actually finding it in the dark. By the time we did we felt pretty silly as it was obvious, once we knew to head off over the gravel towards the hall, the bear left. Still, we had a good nights’s sleep and were ready to head over to the cooked breakfast before 8.00 a.m. Then Stephen suggested that we take our van out to the Reynolds Reserve and do our own breakfast there. As it meant having our toilet with us I was happy to agree.

This meant we did the walk through the reserve on our own schedule and were back in the van again before the sun became too fierce. I’m a bit disappointed in my photos of the verticordias, but as I’ve been photographing wildflowers so much this year I focussed on enjoying the abundance instead. And, the the flowers are not yet at their peak owing to having lots of rain recently.

We returned to town for lunch under a tree in a parking area just one back from the main street. That meant being on hand to have devonshire teas and look at exhibits. By the time we left the van the stalls were being dismantled, but markets can be a bit boring anyway, I’m sure we didn’t miss anything.

I had some chicken to cook, so we moved house once again, chasing better shade, and parked outside of the pub. The sun eventually came into the van, but we persevered and had a good meal, plus have leftovers for one or two more meals.

Our next priority was the Saturday night stargazing at the airport. The airport is just on the edge of town and we arrived around sunset. We had to dig out our camping chairs to join the ‘class’ waiting for the presentation. This time we had Phil of (can’t remember) who also does presentations in Karrijini at Dales Gorge campground. He was a showman and liked to surprise us, have little quizzes and generally mess around. He had three telescopes, all manual, which needed frequent readjusting to take into account how fast our Earth is rotating, but it was an excellent evening of fun and learning. It even included a bit of astrology. He had a green lazer to point out stars to us.

I didn’t feel that the night was a clear as it could have been, perhaps dust in the air as it is very dry here. But it beat last year when we had so much cloud. Afterwards we easily found our way home, had some fruit and yogurt, and went to bed. I set our alarm for 7.30 a.m. this morning and we woke up naturally at around that time.

Today we will, of course, take in the vintage car display and do some van services (no need to specify) and head off.

After a bit of a look around this morning we decided to go to Lake Ninan to have our lunch. The water is quite high after the rains and covers a large area. The wind coming over it was cooled down a bit and we had parked in the shade. Whatever our original plan we found we couldn’t leave as it’s so nice to be at this lake. After a rest and coffee we’ve been sitting outside. The wind is too strong at times to have the screen over the sliding door, which meant we were plagued by flies inside. It is more comfortable to be outside than inside, we still have flies, but we are cool enough.

Jennacubbine to Gabbi Quoi Quoi lookout

After a walk around in the morning we left Jennacubbine for our next overnight park up. This is also on WikiCamps and isn’t a designated camping area, but other people have stayed there and we didn’t have any problems.

We had to level up the van as there were no flat spots. At the lookout is a board featuring information about the restoration of farmland in the area. After a restful afternoon we took a walk back down the road leading to the lookout as we had noticed quite a lot of wildflowers on the verges. It is only a kilometre back to the main road and Stephen went the whole way, I shaved off the last bit as I felt I’d done enough.

Yesterday was mostly overcast, but we did have a bit of blue sky and a pretty sunset. I put the drone up after the walk, but the footage was quite dark and I thought I’d fly again this morning. But it was too windy. Anyway, the batteries need charging and as we are having a cafe lunch today I’ve left them working away in the van. We are getting better solar today, but still have not had the van batteries below 91% at any stage, and so far this trip haven’t gone below 97%. We use the electric kettle, my coffee machine and milk frothier and the hair dryer. We haven’t needed heating even though the nights are cold. Cooking an even meal seems to do the trick of keeping us warm enough until bedtime.

After a restful morning we’ve driven to Wongan Hills to do van services: water, dump, rubbish and shopping. We now have the programme for the Wildflower Festival and have booked the tour out to see the verticordias at 9.00 am tomorrow. We can have a cooked breakfast at the Visitor Centre at 7.30 so only have to get up, wash and dress in the morning. Earlier starts are not really a problem now that sunrise is so much earlier.

Wongan Hills Wildflower Show: Perth to Jennacubbine

Noble Falls picnic area and Jennacubbine. Although I’ve used GoPro Quik to produce the slideshow the photos and video were actually shot on my phone. You may need to click on the link to view.

We decided to make the WHWS a van trip by leaving as soon as we could and finding some different places to stay before heading to WH. We left home late in the morning. I was a bit worried about my back when loading up the van, but I worked slowly and don’t seem to have done any further damage, judging by having little pain afterwards.

Stephen had a library visit to make, books always seem to need returning at inconvenient times, but as we weren’t going very far it wasn’t a problem. Leaving home we weren’t too sure where we would spend the night.

Rain was forecast, and it did rain, but in fairly brief, heavy showers, and we had almost no rain whilst we were actually driving. Noble Falls is one of our favourite places to stop and the small river was in good flow. We had a shower whilst there, but also some sunshine. I heated up some vegetarian food to have with salad for lunch and we had a rest afterwards.

Then on to Toodyay where we did some shopping, stocking up on bananas and salads. Afterwards we had our afternoon cup of tea in the car park.

It was then time to choose our destination for the night. We wanted it to be more or less on the way to WH and not a place that would get very muddy if it rained. Jennacubbine offeres two camping options, free at the Tavern if you purchase drinks and a meal, or $10 per night at the Town Hall with access to the Hall. We chose the latter. I had a meal planned and we stocked up on cider in Toodyay, so didn’t need to buy them.

The Hall is old and smells musty. This parkup can be used by groups. We do have access to a shower, but preferred to use our own facilities. The toilet is handy for some visits and as I had used our big stainless steel frying pan for cooking Stephen went across to the kitchen to do the dishes after our evening meal. There is loose blue metal in the parking area which also contributes to it being worth the $10. It hasn’t actually rained here since we arrived, but the it could have been muddy without the blue metal. Today is partly cloudy, but in the sunny periods we are getting very good solar input.

We are making a slow start this morning as our plan is to go to another park up with good views for tonight and it isn’t very far. We are assuming we have 24hrs here for our $10. The view from the van is of a field with crops in rows, perhaps partly harvested and it makes it much more interesting than a normal field. The temperature is still cool and we appreciate the sunny periods. We had to pack for cold and heat for this short trip as it is forecast to be over 30 on Sunday. Our plan is to get back on Monday or Tuesday next week.

Fremantle Mini Break

On Saturday we went to see The Sourceror, the first G&G collaboration operetta. Most of the singers weren’t that good, but there were some very good comic scenes and the chorus sounded really good. I was a bit doubtful of going to two shows in one day, the second being in Fremantle in the evening. So, I pursuaded Stephen that we should stay in Fremantle overnight. The second show was memorial to the Indigenous Workers’ Strike of 1946 (is that the year?). We could order a meal, so that was tea taken care of, and I booked the Fremantle Caravan Park about 5 kms away.

After the G&S show at the Dolphin we headed to the caravan park to check in. They have a little enclave for campervans and we liked the setup. We backed in, but decided to drive into the site when returning later as it was easier and would mean we wouldn’t have the morning sun streaming into the van through the sliding door.

We enjoyed the whole evening, meeting up with Eversley, who had confirmed about the meal availability and booked us a table. For $20 we had a generous sized roast each and stewed apple and oats desert. The desert was so healthy that we all agreed that it felt like we were having our breakfast, but it was still appreciated. There were two other Working Voices choir members there and they joined us at our table, which contributed to the enjoyment of the evening.

The acted parts of the presentation helped to tell the story. There was some original music for the show and they finished the night with the Whitefella Paul Kelly’s song ‘From little things big things grow’ and we all sang along. Indigenous folk from the Pilbara where the strike took place had come for the show.

Normally we avoid alcohol if we have to drive, but over the course of the evening we shared a couple of small bottles of cider. The short drive to the caravan park was accomplished without incident. I used the park showers and we plugged the van into power. That was about it for set up.

We had a good night’s sleep and got away just about on time. We wanted to spend a little time actually at the beach, since the disadvantage of the caravan park is that it is about 2 kms away from the ocean. We tried the North Mole, but it was closed off for some reason. There were about three signs about the closure, one would have done, together with the locked gate across the road. Perhaps it comes under several different authorities.

We drove along the road towards Cottesloe and snagged a good spot overlooking the sea. There were lots of people at the beach, but despite the warmth it wasn’t an ideal day with soft clouds bringing out the stingers and the beach littered with seaweed after last week’s storms. The water did not seem inviting and more people were on the beach or SUP boards than in the ocean. I made us coffees and we had some muffins that I made a couple of days ago. We felt very blessed and got lots of looks from people – hopefully just admiring our setup. The cafes were pretty busy with long waits for coffee. It was good to be independant.

At about midday we drove home. Matt came in the evening and we had a cake that Eversley had brought to our choir meetup on Thursday, which wasn’t needed for supper as we had so much food, including another cake. Matt had four little slices, Stephen and I had two. The choir meetup was in South Fremantle on Thursday evening, another reason why I wanted to stay in Freo on Saturday night, I didn’t fancy the long drive home again, especially without being able to have an afternoon nap. If we hadn’t been staying nearby we might have slipped away early from the show.

Nanga Music Festival 2021

Need to blog about the weekend. I was actually doing a Youtube video, but I’m not very happy about the video from my iPhone, probably due to automatic HDR, and I find it annoying. It’s now switched off, but it was a bit late for good quality video.

However, we set off on Friday in the late morning and made a first stop at Serpentine near the roadhouse for lunch. Their toasted sandwiches are pretty good. We arrived in Dwellinup at about 2.00 p.m., or perhaps even earlier, but waited in town until about 10 to 5.00 pm as the organisers had asked us to NOT arrive early as we clog up the road waiting in line. It was fairly easy to get in and we were very fortunate in being allocated a little park up a bit away from the other vans, with the path to Currawong on one side and the internal gravel road on the other. Still, it was quiet overnight, which is the main thing.

The organisers had booked mainly local artists, with one group from South Australia, and we felt the overall quality was a good as any in years past, so we really do have some fantastic performers. It’s good to give them work.

We booked in for evening meals as that helps with socialising. At first we felt there was hardly anyone we knew at the festival, but over time we connected with more and more people. There were enough Working Voices choir members to form a little group to perform in the open mike session on Sunday afternoon. We chose songs that are fun as well as having a climate change message so that hopefully we were entertaining.

Coming back to the van late at night it was very cold indeed. The first night we tried the option of lighting a gas burner on the stove to warm things up, but Saturday and Sunday night we used our little ceramic fan heater on the lowest setting. I had tested it at night before we left and after an initial drawing down of power it seems to settle. Having the BMB-712 to measure the effect was extremely useful as I don’t think we would have felt at all comfortable if we had been relying on the voltage reading. We only used it for about half an hour, but it took the chill off.

Apart from that, the weather was delightful, partly cloudy, but quite a lot of sunshine as well. On Sunday after singing we took a walk down to the river with some friends.

There are lots of traditional sections to the festival programme and we enjoyed all of the familiar steps in the process. We bought raffle tickets and hoped to not win the main prize, a painting, and were also not successful with all the subsequent draws. Not that it wasn’t a nice painting, but we don’t really have any more room on our walls.

On Monday morning we took breakfast at the new cafe attached to the Visitors Centre. We had already decided to bypass the cafe we usually go to, just as well as our friends reported it was closed. We enjoyed chatting with them and as they had secured a table indoors it was great to be invited to join them. Afterwards we were sort of bailed up by one of the other Festival participants for a session of him oversharing and going down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories about COVID. The person said he found it difficult to make friends and people did not contact him after meeting even though phone numbers/email addresses were exchanged. By the time we escaped we understood why this might happen. It is sad because he really is a nice person.

On the way home we stopped in at Serpentine, but this time went out to the dam. We had had a shared cooked breakfast at the cafe, and as we often do, then had our cereal and fruit for lunch. It was very wet and cold, but we still managed to get a walk to the waterfalls and I took photos of soggy kangaroos. They didn’t appear to be in the least bothered by the rain and cold, but we don’t speak their language and perhaps they were complaining to each other.

All in all, a good weekend. I’ve just checked with Mike at Ken Peachy regarding our heater. When I called in to see if we could fit a heater/hot water system in the van he wasn’t there. He doesn’t know if it was ordered or not and will check for me. I didn’t want to seem impatient, but it has been five weeks now and I’m so glad I rang because it appears that nothing was happening!

Home again

As we had done about 300 kms to arrive in Katanning it meant that we only had to drive about 150 kms per day for two days to get home. We stopped in Narrogin at the Railway Dam for lunch, but decided we hadn’t travelled far enough for the day and pushed on to a nature reserve just north of Pingelly to spend the night.

We were the only people there, but could see sheep in a field in the distance and the mozzies were very friendly. We managed to keep them out of the van with screens and perhaps our use of incense, which we kept burning until we closed the sliding door. We had our trusty electronic insect zapper handy as it is very good for mosquitos, but not so good for flies and smaller bugs. Plenty of little black things were hanging around the ceiling and we had to spray to get rid of them.

The view from our van at our overnight camping spot

Now that’s a mozzie deterrent!

And this is our other mozzie deterrent
Rest area north of Pingelly
A fairly healthy meal
plant based burger, onion and sweet potato cooked in olive oil, lettuce and tomatos
morning fog

It was quite foggy in the morning, which created a nice atmosphere.

We stopped for lunch at a roadside rest area and went looking for wildflowers afterwards, of course.

The journey home was uneventful, though we had a bad experience at the Brookton dump point as it was completely full and we couldn’t empty our toilet. The dump point is located next to the little caravan park and we concluded that it must already have been reported to the Council. The caravan park is being improved with a camp kitchen and some little chalets, but is still very cheap for camping, especially for seniors and other concession holders.

Our tradition on arriving home is to have a cup of tea before tackling the unpacking. Stephen put away all the food and we helped with each other’s stuff. Lessons learned in living closely together is that both chipping in gets things done and out of the way.

The fact that we are having quite heavy spring rains at the moment has meant we are quite reconciled to being at home for a few days. I love the rain – but it does make getting out for walks a bit challenging.